US 20070282606 A1
A frame definition for use by dialog system during an interaction with a user, the frame definition includes at least one data field and at least one goal comprising a Boolean function of one or more filled predicates, each of which takes a reference to a field of the frame as its argument. A goal is satisfied during a dialog if the Boolean function evaluates to true. A goal may be used to control the focus of the interaction.
1. A method for interpreting a frame definition, the frame definition comprising at least one data field and at least one goal, to control a dialog with a user, the method comprising:
receiving information input from the user;
updating frame data associated with the frame definition dependent upon the information input from the user;
selecting an activated goal of the at least one goal of the frame definition;
if the activated goal is satisfied:
evaluating final rules of the frame definition; and
completing the interpretation of the frame definition; and
if the activated goal is not satisfied:
selecting an unfilled data field in the goal; and
generating an output to the user using information in the frame definition that is associated with the unfilled data field.
2. A method in accordance with
3. A method in accordance with
4. A method in accordance with
5. A method in accordance with
selecting a goal of the further frame definition;
selecting an unfilled data field of the further frame definition in the goal of the further frame definition; and
generating an output to the user using information associated with the unfilled data field of the further frame definition.
6. A method in accordance with
detecting if an alternative goal of the plurality of goals is activated as a result of user input; and
using the alternative goal to guide the dialog.
7. A dialog system operable to perform the method of
8. A computer readable medium containing computer instructions that, when executed on a programmed processor, perform the method of
9. A system operable to control a dialog with a user to update frame data associated with a frame definition, the system comprising:
a memory operable to store at least one data field and at least one goal of the frame definition;
a user input module;
a user output module; and
a processor operable to receive user information from the user input module, update the frame data dependent upon the user information and generate an output to the user output module dependent upon a goal of the at least one goal of the frame definition.
10. A system in accordance with
select an activated goal of the at least one goal of the frame definition dependent upon the user information;
evaluate final rules of the frame definition and end update of the frame data if the activated goal is satisfied; and
select an unfilled data field in the goal and generate the output to the user using frame information associated with the unfilled data field if the activated goal is not satisfied.
11. A system in accordance with
12. A system in accordance with
13. A system in accordance with
14. A system in accordance with
15. A system in accordance with
16. A system in accordance with
at least one data field; and
a goal comprising a Boolean function of one or more filled predicates, each of which takes a reference to a field of the at least one data field as its argument, wherein the goal is satisfied during a dialog if the Boolean function evaluates to true.
17. A system in accordance with
18. A system in accordance with
19. A system in accordance with
This application is related to co-pending U.S. patent applications docket numbers CML03559HI, titled “Hierarchial State Machine Generation for Interaction Management Using Goal Specifications”, and CML03561HI, titled “Statechart Generation Using Frames”, both filed even date herewith
In an interactive system, a dialog is a series of inquires and responses between a computer and a user that allows the computer to obtain information from and deliver information to the user. Many techniques currently exist for specifying dialog control logic in voice and multimodal dialog systems. At the lowest level of representational sophistication are finite-state scripts that explicitly enumerate the various states and transitions. At a higher level of complexity are frame-based techniques. The metaphor behind frame-based dialog control logic is that of form-filling, that is, the system requires certain pieces of information from the user in order to accomplish some domain specific task (such as booking a flight, finding a restaurant, or finding out who you want to call on the phone). The advantage of frame-based techniques over finite-state scripts is that they enable a dialog designer to create a relatively complex dialog in a more compact format. A frame compactly represents a large number of states by eliminating much of the explicit process logic that is required in finite-state machines. This is because the fields of a frame can typically be filled in any order, and an interaction manager (IM) will use the current completion state of a frame in order to decide what remaining information it needs to get from the user. This typically leads to a more mixed-initiative, and flexible interaction than that obtained from a finite-state script.
A dialog system typically prompts the user for discrete pieces of information in a pre-determined order such as a credit card number followed by an expiration date. For the user, this can become quite cumbersome, especially when she is accustomed to providing multiple pieces of information in succession without the interruption of intermediary prompts. In addition, the caller may desire to provide the pieces of information in a different order than specified by the application. Mixed-initiative dialogs address both of these issues by allowing the flow of the call to be directed by the user as well as by the application.
Frame-based techniques are not the most powerful technique for specifying dialog control logic. Other techniques, such as plan-based and agent-based models, are more powerful However, frame-based techniques have the advantage of simplicity compared to these approaches, and are thus appropriate for specifying certain limited kinds of dialogs. Another reason for the current popularity of frames is the existence of a World Wide Web Consortium, Voice Extensible Markup Language (W3C VoiceXML 2.0) standard. The VoiceXML 2.0 standard adopts a frame-based approach. In the VoiceXML standard, frames come in two varieties, “forms”, and “menus”. An example of a VoiceXML form 100 is shown in
The embodiments presented below will be described in terms of frames of the sort shown in
When a frame is large, containing a relatively large number of fields, the explicit control logic for the cases described above can involve considerable complexity, reducing the utility of using a frame-based language for specifying dialogs, and reducing maintainability and extensibility. To the extent that explicit control logic is being used, the frame-based language becomes less declarative, more procedural, and more equivalent to a lower-level finite state script.
The novel features believed characteristic of the invention are set forth in the appended claims. The invention itself, however, as well as the preferred mode of use, and further objects and advantages thereof, will best be understood by reference to the following detailed description of an illustrative embodiment when read in conjunction with the accompanying drawing(s), wherein:
While this invention is susceptible of embodiment in many different forms, there is shown in the drawings and will herein be described in detail one or more specific embodiments, with the understanding that the present disclosure is to be considered as exemplary of the principles of the invention and not intended to limit the invention to the specific embodiments shown and described. In the description below, like reference numerals are used to describe the same, similar or corresponding parts in the several views of the drawings.
Frame design can be simplified by eliminating at least some of the procedural control logic. In one embodiment of the invention, declarative goal information is added to a frame definition and the corresponding Frame Interpretation Algorithm (FIA) is modified in order to use this goal information. This reduces the need to augment a frame definition with additional procedural control logic, thereby simplifying frame design. The goal information explicitly specifies a user goal as a Boolean expression of predicates over the fields of a frame. Goals can be expressed as disjunctions of conjunctions of positive (i.e., non-negated) predicates over the fields of a form. This is a version of Disjunctive Normal Form (DNF), in which only positive (non-negative) predicates are used. This entails no loss of generality, since any Boolean combination of non-negative expressions can be converted to a DNF expression.
Goal information has been used in frames to determine if the frame data is complete. However, goal information has not been used previously to control an interaction.
Dialog systems find application in many areas including, but not limited to: automotive systems, audio/video equipment, appliances, computers, home automation systems, fire alarm systems, burglar alarm systems, telephone systems, intercom systems, gateway systems and internet access systems. In general, a dialog system may find application in any domain in which a well-specified task must be achieved, and which involves communicating with a user in order to obtain or provide information relevant to achieving the task.
The Motorola Portable Dialog (MPD) system of the Motorola Corporation is an example of a dialog system that includes frames. MPD frames can be defined by using the textual Motorola Portable Dialog Frame Language (MPD-FL). An example of an MPD-FL representation of a frame 200 with goals is shown in
A frame contains zero or more goals. Each goal consists of one or more filled predicates, each of which takes a reference to a field as its argument. The filled predicate evaluates to false if its argument is not set to a single legitimate value. It evaluates to true otherwise. The dialog system interprets the set of goals as a logical formula in Disjunctive Normal Form (DNF). That is, a frame is satisfied if and only if any one of its goals is satisfied. A goal is satisfied if and only if every filled predicate in the goal evaluates to true. It should be noted that representation of goals is not limited to DNF. For example, goals can be represented in other forms such as general Boolean expressions, mathematical expressions or the like, or forms used in combination.
Goal satisfaction is a recursive notion. The value of a field can be either an atomic value, or a complex value consisting of another form or sub-frame. In the former case, the field is filled if it is set to a single atomic value (e.g., a string or a Boolean value). In the latter case, the field is filled only if its form value is satisfied. The embedded form can contain its own goals, implying a recursive clause to the definition of satisfaction.
In a mixed-initiative scenario, the user may decide to pursue a different goal than that which the system is following. This is permitted by the dialog system FIA. If the user updates the frame data in such a way that an alternative goal is activated, the system will detect this and use the newly activated goal in order to guide the dialog.
The addition of declarative goals to frame definitions, and the use of a Frame Interpretation Algorithm (FIA) that interprets these goals appropriately, solves the two related problems specified above. Firstly, the declarative goals are used to judge when a frame has been completed. Frame data is completed whenever a goal is satisfied, whether or not all of the fields defined in the frame definition have been filled. This eliminates the need to add explicit control logic to perform this task. Secondly, the declarative goals are used by the FIA in order to decide what topic to pursue next, when the system has the initiative. By referring to activated goals, the system can determine that certain subsets of fields in a frame are related to each other in a way that can be used to determine the current question under discussion. A user activates a goal by filling in one of the relevant fields. The system is flexible enough to pursue a new goal if the user updates a field that appears in a goal other than the one the system was pursuing.
The present invention, as described in embodiments herein, is implemented using a programmed processor executing programming instructions that are broadly described above in flow chart form that can be stored on any suitable electronic storage medium. However, those skilled in the art will appreciate that the processes described above can be implemented in any number of variations and in many suitable programming languages without departing from the present invention. For example, the order of certain operations carried out can often be varied, additional operations can be added or operations can be deleted without departing from the invention. Error trapping can be added and/or enhanced and variations can be made in user interface and information presentation without departing from the present invention. Such variations are contemplated and considered equivalent.
While the invention has been described in conjunction with specific embodiments, it is evident that many alternatives, modifications, permutations and variations will become apparent to those of ordinary skill in the art in light of the foregoing description. Accordingly, it is intended that the present invention embrace all such alternatives, modifications and variations as fall within the scope of the appended claims.